Battle Plan for The New York Times

This week, The New York Times had the dual role of trying to figure out how to stay alive, while also objectively covering the process of newspapers dying.

In an article on their website today, "Battle Plans for Newspapers," they asked eight people to come up with plans for how to save newspapers, though they didn't mention their own desperate need for such a plan.  One of the plans, "'Culture of free' is Suicide," was written by Steven Brill, who goes more in-depth with this idea in a confidential memo recently released by Romenesko.  Two others, Joel Kramer and Craig Newmark, have giraffe profiles in our database (click on their names to reach the profile.)  It's an interesting conversation, though the responses were broad and at times vague, much more so than other, more spirited battle plans that have been coming out the past two weeks.  (Read posts from February 3 and February 5 for links to these articles.)

Meanwhile, from February 2-6, Bill Keller, the executive editor of the Times, answered questions online about the future of his paper.  When asked if they would start charging for online content, he said:

"Really good information, often extracted from reluctant sources, truth-tested, organized and explained — that stuff wants to be paid for. So far, it gets paid for mainly by advertisers, but a lively, deadly serious discussion continues within The Times about ways to get consumers to pay for what we make." 

The "deadly serious" seemed telling.  With online ad sales in decline, there's more and more talk about charging for online NYT content.  A sharp reversal from the heyday of "culture of free," covered widely in the Wired issue 16.03.  Keller broke down their three main money-making ideas:  subscription service, micro-payments, and new reading devices.